Looking for financing? Start here.
Opening any business is an expensive proposition. Even in the franchise industry, where established models, corporate support and national marketing campaigns ensure a quicker-than-average return on investment, the initial costs to get up and running can be daunting.
The vast majority of franchisees, regardless of their financial wherewithal, will take a loan to finance a new opening. But choosing a franchise lender can be an overwhelming task in its own right. The field of franchise lenders has exploded in recent years as the economy continues to improve and new businesses are seen as safer bets. And there is no shortage of specialty lenders. Some banks focus exclusively on the top-100 franchise brands, others on tier-two and tier-three brands. Some banks work exclusively with restaurant franchisees, and some will work in any concept so long as the candidate has the right experience.
For a new franchisee looking for a loan, it can be hard to know where to start. To help, 1851 rounded up 11 of our favorite franchise lenders. Each has its own style and focus, offering different services for different types of entrepreneurs in different markets. If you’re seeking financing and not sure where to look, start here.
Working predominantly with quick-service restaurants and hospitality brands, First Colorado National Bank offers SBA loans with favorable terms for franchisees working with low-overhead concepts.
“Most of the time, the franchises we work with don’t have real estate involved, so the SBA loans help,” said Sherwin Patidar, Senior Vice President at First Colorado National Bank. “We are typically working with brands that go into retail spaces like a strip center.”
Based in Dallas, Texas, Texas Capital Bank offers both commercial and private banking, but it specializes in franchising. Texas Capital’s does not focus on a particular concept or segment. Instead, Brian Frank, the Texas Capital’s senior vice president and group head of franchise finance, says the look at the strength of both the franchisor and the franchisee to come up with a financing plan.
“We work with franchisees and franchisors and discuss with them what exactly they are trying to accomplish,” said Frank. “We talk to each client about their needs and figure out what the right mix of debt and equity is for their particular situation. There is no cookie cutter solution, it’s more of an art than it is a science. We work with each individual operator and help them reach their end goal.”
Joyal Capital Management’s franchise division, Joyal Capital Management Franchise Development, has more than 250 franchisee clients with more than 2,000 locations. Joyal Capital does not work exclusively with tier-one brands, but it does focus primarily on bigger-name brands with strong development forecasts, such as Dunkin’ Donuts.
Benetrends has worked closely with small-business owners for nearly 40 years, starting out with an explicit focus on mom-and-pop shops. 15 years ago, the bank shifted their specialization to the franchise industry. Now, Benetrends’s national director of sales, Tim Livingston, says the bank works closely with franchisees to accommodate every aspect of their financial needs, from startup loans to equipment financing.
“We walk customers through the entire process because a lot of aspiring business owners haven’t thought through things like insurance options or payroll, so we offer a one-stop-shop,” Livingstone said.
ApplePie Capital is not a lending institution. At least not in the traditional sense. Instead of investing its own money in loans, ApplePie connects borrowers with the most appropriate lenders for their needs.
“We understand the complexity and time constraints that one faces in efficiently financing a business,” said John Neff, ApplePie’s chief marketing officer. We’ve created a transformative lending network to suit one’s financial needs and reduce the headaches and inefficiency of working separately across individual lenders.”
After the liquidation of GE Capital’s franchise finance arm two years ago, that bank’s franchise finance team moved to BBVA Compass, which offers financing assistance for small, medium and large franchisees from all sectors.
“Because so many of us came from GE Capital, we’ve got a wealth of experience in structuring transactions. When we came to BBVA and got the banking products and capabilities they have to offer, it really was the perfect combination of our experience with the most competitive pricing and products,” said James Short, Director of Food Franchise Finance for BBVA Compass.
Miami Lakes, Florida’s BankUnited has nearly 90 banking centers throughout the state, each offering access to the bank’s Bridge Funding Group, which offers dedicated franchise financing options for virtually every franchisee expenditure.
“We provide financing to franchisees for most business purposes,” said Richard Riecker, Senior Vice President of Bridge Funding Group. “We finance acquisitions, refinances, new builds, remodels, refreshes — really anything a franchisee might need cash to help them grow their business. So as a franchisee tries to build a profitable business, we can be partners for nearly every facet of their growth strategy.”
Focused exclusively on franchise financing, Trinity Capital has closed more than 500 transactions exceeding $20 billion since it was founded just 18 years ago. Those transactions include deals with many of the biggest names in franchising, including Taco Bell, Panera Bread, Benihana, Ponderosa Steakhouse and Long John Silver’s.
“Trinity is continuously engaged in the marketplace, advising clients on the sale and acquisition of restaurants in the top 100 concepts,” said Kevin Burke, Founder and CEO of Trinity Capital. “Accordingly, we are well-informed about availability, pricing and other logistics around the sale of restaurants. We work with our franchisee clients to improve their profile within their franchise system, ensure they have optimal financing and provide them a continuous stream of leads on transactions in the franchise restaurant category.”
Founded in 2005 with the explicit intention of helping foodservice franchisees secure financing, CapitalSpring has since broadened its scope, now working some corporate-owned businesses as well, but it is still focused exclusively on the restaurant industry. That narrow focus has allowed CapitalSpring to develop expertise and authority in the segment, helping them secure more than $1 billion in financing for more than 50 brands.
“We’ve invested in fifty different brands and thousands of restaurants over the past 13 years. So we know the space,” said Erik Herrmann, Managing Director and Head of Restaurant Investment Group for CapitalSpring. “We’ve seen every angle of it. We have encountered all of the challenges that our franchisee partners are likely to face. We have a strategic perspective that other lenders don’t have. Compare that to a conventional lender operating across multiple industries, and it’s just a completely different level of engagement.”
Like Apple Pie Capital, BoeFly does not actually provide financing itself. Instead, the online marketplace connects commercial investors with lenders. BoeFly was designed to streamline the lending process for both borrowers and lenders, offering a number of tools to help both parties find the best partners.
“[We] have a tool called bQual that lets investors know immediately if they meet the requirements to apply for a given brand,” said BoeFly’s co-founder and CEO, Mike Rozman. “That’s just one example of how we streamline the process and put everything in very clear, simple terms, which is hard to find in this industry.”
Based out of Indianapolis, Pinnacle Commercial Capital is a franchise finance company that works most often with tier-two franchise brands, helping to finance franchisees whose plans are ruled out by larger banks.
“Once you get into tier-two and tier-three, you find some projects that the biggest banks aren’t looking at, and that’s where we have an opportunity to try harder,” said Pinnacle’s vice president, Craig T. Weichmann. “We want to learn more about who the franchisee is, what kind of gameplay they have and if they are cutting the appropriate deal with the brand. The test at the end of the day is our portfolio, and we’ve got an excellent portfolio of well-performing loans. And that’s because we go the extra mile.”